Monday, August 7, 2017

Mid-July Trip To Pennsylvania Elk Country

The River
Temperatures were hot and humid when I arrived in Benezette in mid-afternoon on Monday July 17th for several days of elk filming and photography.  Reports indicated that few elk were being seen in town or on Winslow Hill, but in spite of this I felt optimistic of success.

Even though it was stifling hot, there was little haze in the air with only a slight threat of a thunderstorm and it was a good evening to take a walk with the cameras if you didn't mind being soaked with sweat. Since I usually concentrate on taking video, I carried a Panasonic FZ2500 fitted with a 5" Small HD monitor on the tripod for that purpose and a Canon 1DKMKII with the Canon 100mm-400mm IS II lens in my camera bag for still photography. I saw several small bulls that evening and one was close enough for good still photos.

Alert 5x5
5x5 Looks At Distant Bulls
The best bull of the evening was a decent 6x6, but unfortunately he was in short grass, which provided a less than deal setting and he was always looking directly at me when I was taking stills.

6x6 Pauses From Grazing
Three of the most important parts of elk photography in the summer is being out early in the morning and staying late in the evening.  When I walked I never got back to the vehicle until after dark.  The down side to this of course is that lighting conditions are often less than ideal when you encounter the elk. I prefer the mornings if it is not too foggy, but that is a big problem in elk country as it seems most mornings are foggy--some of them so bad that photography is almost impossible. Fortunately the morning I encountered a fine 6x7 with a bachelor group of smaller bulls, the fog was spotty and there were relatively clear periods at times.

6x7 On A Foggy Morning
4K Video Frame Grab of Bachelor Group
On Wednesday morning another fine 6x7 was grazing in a meadow of tall grasses and I photographed him with the 1DXMKII and 500mm F 4 lens.

6x7  Looks To Distant Hill Side
Another View
Eventually he returned to feeding and worked past my position and I used the 5DMKIII with the Canon 100-400mm IS II to photograph him with a bit more of the surroundings included in the photo.

6x7: Taken with 5DMKIII and 100-400mm IS II at 371 mm
I spent very little time driving around Winslow Hill. I did check for the bulls that I saw last month along the road at the upper end of the hill, but I only saw a small one and didn't film him. Late on Tuesday morning I played tourist and photographed a herd of elk in a camp lawn with the Panasonic FZ1000, which I usually use for close-up video filming when I am not able to set the tripod up. I also used it to take the river photo at the beginning of the post and it does a creditable job with stills as long as one keeps at the lower ISO settings.

A Typical Sighting On Winslow Hill
All in all I have had better July trips to elk country, but this one still gave a lot of photo and video opportunities.  The summer has moved so quickly and it seems impossible to think that very shortly most of the bulls will shed the velvet and soon another rut will begin.

Originally published at Pennsylvania Wildlife Photographer by Willard Hill.


This Is My Blog - fishing guy said...

Very nice captures Willard, what a great animal.

Ruth Hiebert said...

Beautiful captures of these beautiful animals.

Woody Meristem said...

Nice photos -- you had better opportunities than I did ten days ago.

Linda G. said...

Nice photographs!